Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH)

Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) are the lowest Life-Cycle Cost battery

Proven to work in EVs, lasting longer than the life of the car.
GM lies to bloggers about NiMH and Lithium
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Why are Electric car batteries not made in America?

To find out why, you have to unlearn GM and oil company propaganda that Lithium batteries are needed for plug-in cars.

The only proven EV batteries, the most successful, are Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH). NiMH is controlled by an oil company, Chevron, which sued to stop their use in plug-in cars. Chevron, the successor to Standard Oil of California, worked with GM to suppress the use of these NiMH batteries, suing Toyota to stop production of the only Electric car sold to the general public by a major auto company.


The late Roger B. Smith, at the time GM’s CEO, developed the EV1 in secret, and it may have cost him his job.

After the California Air Resources Board (CARB) decided to force GM to make the EV1, GM spent years sabotaging and then crushing it.

The EV1 was originally desiged to run on lead-acid batteries; even though it only had 100 miles range, about 5000 drivers loved the “Impact” test vehicle, which was the prototype for the later EV1.

GM heard about a much better battery, Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH); Electric cars fitted with primitive NiMH batteries had more than 200 miles range.


In 1994, GM bought control of the exclusive worldwide patent rights to NiMH from its inventor, Ovonics. The rights were then vested in a company called GM-Ovonics. GM claimed that the NiMH batteries were not viable and would not run the EV1.

In Nov., 1996, GM released the EV1 with defective Delco lead-acid batteries. These were failure-prone, and only gave 60 miles range.

In Mar., 1997, Toyota and Honda brought out small SUV Electric cars with over 120 miles range and with very reliable NiMH batteries. These were the RAV4-EV and HondaEV.

CARB forced GM to upgrade their bad Delco lead-acid batteries to much better PSB EV-EC1260 lead-acid batteries, because CARB finally realized that GM was trying to sabotage the Electric car. With the better batteries, the range improved to over 100 miles, and the batteries were very reliable. GM then issued a “voluntary recall” of all lead-acid EV1, and started crushing them.

CARB also forced GM to release a version of the EV1 with NiMH batteries; it only had 140 miles EPA certified range, but it was in high demand. The last one was leased in late 2000. But the election of George Bush in Nov. 2000 killed the need for GM to pretend to comply, and GM ceased production of the EV1. No more were leased, and GM started crushing them.

Upcoming Republican control of EPA removed the need for CARB to force auto makers to produce Electric cars. With the pressure gone, auto makers started crushing Electric cars, including the HondaEV and others.


On Oct. 10, 2000, GM sold control of GM-Ovonics, and the NiMH batteries it controlled, to Texaco.

On Oct. 16, 2000, Texaco announced it was merging into Chevron (Standard Oil of California), taking control of the NiMH Electric car batteries with it.

Chevron renamed GM-Ovonics as Chevron-Ovonics BAttery SYStems (“COBASYS”). In 2001, Cobasys filed suit against Toyota and others, claiming violations of its patent rights.

In Mar., 2002, Toyota, perhaps in reaction to the lawsuit, became the only modern car company to offer an Electric car, the Toyota RAV4-EV, for sale to the general public.

In Nov., 2002, Toyota abruptly ended the program and stopped selling Toyota RAV4-EV.

Less than a month later, in Dec., 2002, Cobasys and Toyota announced a settlement agreement had been reached in which Toyota paid $30 million to Cobasys and Chevron. Toyota was licensed to produce batteries too small to allow plugging-in, e.g., for the Toyota Prius. From this date, no plug-in car has been produced using NiMH batteries; CARB and Toyota discourage volunteer engineers from adding batteries to NiMH Prius and other hybrids so that they can plug in.

Toyota ceased production of the “EV-95” large-format NiMH battery that powered the Toyota RAV4-EV, and Toyota ceased production of the Toyota RAV4-EV. No more of these NiMH batteries can be purchased at any price for any reason, not even for replacement in the existing Toyota RAV4-EV.


To this day, Chevron’s unit Cobasys retains control of the NiMH batteries; for this reason, it is believed necessary for car companies to try to make Lithium batteries work. Lithium is much more expensive than NiMH, doesn’t last as long, and has no recycle value. Batteries are measured by life-cycle cost of ownership: Lithium is about six times as expensive as NiMH or lead-acid.

While no all-Lithium Electric car has gone more than 50,000 miles without significant battery degradation, there are hundreds of Toyota RAV4-EV in the hands of the public, many of which have more than 100,000 miles. All are still in use, still running.

Lithium perhaps will some day work; but the only proven EV batteries are lead-acid and the far superior NiMH.

It’s odd that, in this time of a national energy emergency, car makers are not in control of the NiMH battery that they need to make Electric cars.

It’s true that an oil company worked with GM to sequester these batteries, and that the oil company still retains ownership of the patent rights, aggressively defending them against any use for plug-in cars.

Why is it so important? If you could buy a plug-in car, you could use the money you save by NOT buying gas to pay for your rooftop solar system. This is not fantasy, it’s fact for hundreds of Toyota RAV4-EV drivers who plug in their EVs for slow charging at night, using credits from their daytime peak production of excess electric. Not only do they get to drive “for free” after the solar system is paid for, they also get their household electric “for free”, free of cost and free of pollution.

If there were plug-in cars for sale, solarizing America would be self-financing; the only loser would be Chevron, as the money that formerly went to buy oil and spread pollution instead went to pay for rooftop distributed solar power.

Doug Korthof
Scholium on Life Cycle Cost:

Total cost of ownership is a compendium of three costs:

1. Original price
2. Logistic (running) cost
3. Scrap or sunset credit/charge

Divided over the useful life of the product.
For example, NiMH has a useful life of more than 10 years and over 100,000 miles, and is estimated by CARB to cost $13,000 at most with a recycle value of $2,400 or a net cost of about 10 cents per mile.

The Lithium batteries in the Tesla cost $25,000 (for twice the quantity), last at most 5 years and 50,000 miles, and have no scrap value or a net cost of more than 25 cents per mile.

These assumptions are the most conservative, least favoring NiMH. In reality, NiMH in quantity would cost less; while Lithium batteries are already at their lowest due to massive production for laptops, NiMH would be as little as 4 cents per mile. Lithium in practice might be as high as 50 cents.